Bringing a new cat into a home with other animals can be stressful for everyone. But if you take a few precautions and do it gently, it can be a much easier process. Try these steps for a harmonious transition when you have a cat and are bringing a new one into your home. It also helps to let them know ahead of time what to expect. I often hear from the resident cat ,” WHAT is this cat doing in my house?“ You might explain that you are bringing in a new kitty because you feel your cat could use a little cat company (if you feel that is true). The other explanation could be that the new kitty needed a home and that you feel your place is big enough for both of them.
Phase-in Procedure for when your new kitty arrives:
- House your new kitty for 2-3 days in a bedroom with litterbox, food and water (with the door closed). Visit frequenty to help your new cat feel at home and to get his scent on you so that your resident cat begins to get used to the new one’s scent.
- Spray the cat cheek pheromone Feliway on the doorjamb at her cheek height and around the legs of chairs and other rubbing spots, in and out of the room. The calming pheromone will ease anxiety for both the host cat and the incoming one.
- Encourage cats to interact under the door by tossing treats under the door and on the floor in front of the door.
- After 2-3 days put your resident cat into a room, close the door and allow the new cat to explore the house. The new cat will leave her scent whereever she walks and she will smell the other cat.
- After a period of exploration, return the new cat to the bedroom and release resident kitty to encounter the scent of the new cat.
- Alternate releasing and confining each cat for a few days. When they seem relaxed, simply open the guest room door and let the new cat come out when she is ready.
Disregard hissing if it happens. Usually that is just cat language for “Don’t come into my space”. If you stay calm, cats usually just move away from each other. Appropriate “I don’t want to fight behavior” is to slowly move away, curving their bodies gently away. If cats engage in a stare-down which could lead to a fight, help them save face by lowering a visual barrier like a poster board or large piece of cardboard calmly down between them. You can even herd one cat away slowly with the barrier.
- If you are fortunate enough to have a location where your cat can safely enjoy outside time, keep her inside your home for 8-10 days and then open a door and let her walk out on her own 4 feet. Let her explore at her pace and return to the house if she feels uncertain. Her feet have scent glands and she will leave a scent trail to get back into the house. Always provide a way for her to get back into the house on her own.